Outside-of-classroom interactions amongst students are treated as a secondary concern in the educational research literature. Most educational research has focused solely on formal education contexts, and others claim that formal learning methods in classrooms cannot be regarded as the only medium of learning in schools. The focus on classrooms has concealed the critical importance of non-classroom settings where informal encounters take place. In contrast, there have been fewer attempts to envision the entire school as a learning environment. Other than classrooms, labs, and other venues where organized learning activities take place, school facilities are seen as secondary spaces with no specific function relating to learning. 

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Shadow Play in Jadgal Elementary School_©Deed Studio

The term “elementary school” refers to educational establishments that serve students in grades one through four. Strong evidence and study have proven that school buildings have an impact on students’ health and ability to learn over time. Green schools provide children and staff with a healthier environment. We also know that green schools save money from a practical standpoint. Buildings that are energy efficient help to cut energy expenses, which frees up funds for important academic and student support programs.

In traditional educational techniques, the teacher or tutor is the most important figure. The students in the classroom, seated in rows of desks in a tight and hierarchical arrangement, pay attention to the instructor without actively participating. The paradigm of teacher-centred education moulds the student’s complete personality, and this learning activity takes place entirely within the confines of the classroom. This form of teaching is known as the “factory model” in educational literature, in which the classroom is viewed as an assembly line, with teachers as employees and students as objects to be fashioned (Sanoff, 1994). Similarly, Serafini (2002) argues that “the child was thought of as a piece of raw material to be moulded by the educational factory into a quality product” under the educational paradigm of the 1900s. Throughout the twentieth century, the traditional system of curriculum uniformity, large group instruction, and teacher-centred lectures with a blackboard in front of the classroom has survived. The traditional educational system and progressive methodologies take different approaches to the concept of “experience”. The experience a child has in a typical classroom may have an impact on his or her desire to learn. Fixed actions and static roles of instructors and learners, in Dewey’s (1938) words, frequently generate “mis-educative” encounters, obstructing further personal experience for learning. Dewey’s and the progressivist viewpoint’s goal is to give kids lifelong respect for nature and a better environment for natural development (Dewey, 1938).

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Bamboo as Building Material increasing the Volume and Ventilation_©Lucila Aguilar Arquitectos

School design could have a positive or negative impact on learning, or it could promote specific educational approaches through space planning. Contemporary learning theories, such as constructivism, stress a perspective that places the student at the centre of attention. Rather than using approaches focused on knowledge transfer, some educators nowadays are more concerned with revealing the child’s learning processes and cognitive growth. Theorists such as Piaget and Vygotsky believe that children’s interactions with their physical and social environments are the primary source of cognitive development. Both theorists emphasized the importance of society, culture, and institutions in the development of children (Matusov & Hayes, 2000). The breakdown of traditional learning methodologies has an impact on the notion of a “learning environment”.’ The traditional classroom setting, which is based on traditional educational perspectives, is insufficient for a learning style that emphasizes peer interaction as a key component of learning. Unlike popular belief, which confines learning to the confines of the classroom, the learning environment in this study is described as “anywhere, anyplace, anytime” (Anstrand & Kirkbride, 2002).

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Factory Model Education 100 Years Ago_©Getty

The expanding collection of interdisciplinary research on school buildings demonstrates relationships between physical conditions and learning environment designs, and student academic attainment. Most learning environment studies focus on classroom environments, where students spend most of their time; however, there is less research in this area (Tanner, 2000; Yarbrough, 2001) examining the impact of complete school facilities on student learning.

On-Site Play Spaces in Rodelph Sholom School Playdecks_©Francis Dzikowski

Deliberately locking down students in the name of safety and rules stops students from making friends and decreases their confidence level to talk to seniors. This infuses fear in the age gaps and is a trend growing up which might be dangerous in the future years. Students with undiagnosed different abilities like autism, ADHD, and many more will struggle in these locked spaces and, therefore, will be stamped as students with fewer marks which destroy them mentally and academically in their early years. It appears self-evident that the types of buildings in which students and their educators work have an impact on not just what they learn but also how they learn. Public schools have been built largely as a reflection of the model in comparison for education: put a relatively uniform group of kids in a confined area, process kids for a year, ensure they have learned the defined and routine syllabus, move them to the next processing vessel, and repeat until they reach the age at which they are considered ready to leave.

References:

  1. Upitis, R. (2004). School Architecture and Complexity. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 1(1).
  2. ‌ Kasalı, A. (2006). An evaluation of non-classroom spaces of private elementary schools in I·zmir: investigating facors affecting interactions among students. gcris.iyte.edu.tr. [online] Available at: https://gcris.iyte.edu.tr/handle/11147/2921.
  3. ‌Olawuni, A. (n.d.). ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS TECHNICAL SERVICES BRANCH Facility Planning & Architecture Section. www.academia.edu. [online] Available at: https://www.academia.edu/40061271/ARCHITECTURAL_DESIGN_GUIDELINES_FOR_SCHOOLS_TECHNICAL_SERVICES_BRANCH_Facility_Planning_and_Architecture_Section.
  4. ‌ Barrows, A. (1937). Functional Planning of Elementary School Buildings. Bulletin, 1936, No. 19. [online] ERIC. Office of Education, United States Department of the Interior. Available at: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED542457.
  5. ‌Based on the Revision of Guidelines for Designing Kindergarten Facilities A Collection of Exemplary Design of Elementary and Junior High School Facilities Based on the Revision of Guidelines for Designing Elementary and Junior High School Facilities Committee for Study of Case Examples in Response to the Revisions to the Guidelines for Designing Kindergarten/ Elementary School/ Junior High School Facilities. (2010). [online] Available at: https://www.nier.go.jp/shisetsu/pdf/e-ejschool.pdf.
Author

Devika Bhaskaran is an architecture student with absolute love for writing, poetry and travelling. She believes that there are beautiful and mind-blowing untold stories within people and places and she hopes to be a voice for the same. She is in a constant search for architectural wonders that are accessible to all kinds of humans.

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